‘Rye Lane’ Review: Delightfully Fresh South London Rom-Com – best news

  • September 9, 2023

Raine Allen-Miller’s stunning debut is a beautiful love letter to the vibrancy of South London and a celebration of two people heading towards love.

I will start out by saying that without question I am utterly biased towards ‘Rye Lane’. From the moment I saw the trailer while mindlessly scrolling in a lecture I should probably have paid more attention to, I was transfixed. A British rom-com with two dark-skin Black leads set in South London? Best believe I was going to be there opening night, front and centre, no matter what. I knew I was going to like it, and it has easily become one of my favourite movies of all time.

Raine Allen-Miller’s feature directorial debut documents not just the budding romantic entanglements between two 20-something-year-olds, Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson) but also the infectious energy buzzing around Peckham and Brixton. As is standard rom-com protocol, it begins with a meet-cute. It’s not so much cute as it is cringe, however, this does not deter Yas and Dom from having a very eventful day of meeting exes, karaoke and breaking and entering.

Using an anamorphic lens, Allen-Miller invites us to be completely immersed in this journey. Wide angles, vibrant colours and fisheye lenses courtesy of Olan Collardy’s cinematography let the city feel alive and lived in. Strategic use of cameos, especially one that true rom-com fanatics would lose their minds over (no spoliers), pleasantly punctuates the sweet and short runtime of 82 minutes.

Yas and Dom’s odyssey is reminiscent of the walk around Paris in ‘Before Sunset‘ but for regaling childhood aspirations and bad breakups. ‘Rye Lane’ does something different. It teeters on the edge of breaking the fourth wall and leans into its surreal reality. This manoeuvre gives the audience a better glimpse into our couple’s respective interiorities and irradiates Peckhamplex and Brixton’s Ritzy.

The crux of any rom-com is the chemistry between the two leads, and Jonsson and Oparah more than deliver on that front. Enigmatic and vivacious Yas and flustered yet disarmingly charming Dom are seemingly opposites but connect over their shenanigans and shared relationship horror stories. As an onscreen duo, they develop in a way that shows genuine connection and warrants the grand gesture at the end of the film. Through the witty dial

ogue and breezy screenplay of Nathan Byron and Tom Melia, Yas and Dom strike the perfect balance between awkward and cute that can’t help but put a smile on your face. 

‘Rye Lane’ is not just a love letter to the electric atmosphere of South London but a love letter for future generations. Gentrification poses a threat to the chaotic and earnest character of these places forged over decades. A contribution of this movie is preserving the atmosphere for future generations that will undoubtedly experience a completely dissimilar Peckham and Brixton to the one shown.

I absolutely adore ‘Rye Lane’ for a myriad of reasons. For one thing, it came at a point when I too was going through a breakup and it reminded me of the beauty and nonsensical nature of life. I came out of my screening invigorated and hopeful akin to how one feels as spring and summer loom on the horizon. Yas and Dom’s story feeds into my fantasy that I too will randomly run into a stranger and have a heart-warming love story. 

On the whole, ‘Rye Lane’ is warm, charismatic, hilarious and delightfully fresh. This should be required watching for all rom-com enjoyers. If you’re not a fan of the genre, this could be the one to convert you.

‘Rye Lane’ is currently streaming on Disney+ in the UK. 


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